The Orange Game: Routing and Deadlock in Networks

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When a lot of people share one network (such as cars using roads, or messages getting through the Internet), there is the possibility that competing processes will create a “deadlock," or an interruption in movement through the resource. Learners model a network by cooperatively passing objects to their correct destinations. They devise algorithms to efficiently route objects to their destinations; they also learn ways to design a network to minimize deadlock. The activity includes the main activity and several extensions to explore how to design an efficient network. Background information is also included.

Quick Guide

  • Preparation Time: 10 to 30 minutes
  • Learning Time: 45 to 60 minutes
  • Estimated materials cost: 1 cent - $1 per student
  • Age Range: Ages 8 - 14
  • Language: English

Materials List (per student)

  • 3 Name tags or other labels
  • Permanent marker
  • 2 Oranges (other objects like baseballs, tennis balls, other fruits will also work)
  • Space for learners to sit in a network

Informal Category

  • Computers


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Technology
      • Information and Communication
  • Mathematics
    • Problem Solving
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

To use this activity learners need to

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile

Learning styles supported

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities

Components that are part of this resource

Funding sources

  • Google, Inc.

Printed Materials



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